Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Cost of What Really Matters

A reflection the day after Memorial Day

I serve Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation that has a beloved worship home that has received extraordinary media coverage in print, on television, on radio. It is humbling to think our building is better well known than our faith tradition! But often what’s ultimately important is not what makes us famous but how we conduct our lives. 

The question is whether we embody our cherished values and ideals. It’s a challenge often to do so. I’m often reminded how I fall short. Yet this is what we do for one another in worship and in genuine community. We gather to remind ourselves what is ultimately important. We gather to remember the ideals we are called to embody. 

The values of kindness, honesty, and integrity often seem to be in short supply these days. Yet, if we look closely at people in our midst, we can see all sorts of teachers. I notice many people who reach out with compassion to people who are struggling or responding to a social challenge. I notice how many go the extra mile. I notice how people in our wider community respond to the needs of others, sometimes on a moment’s notice or in unexpected circumstances.  

I can’t stop thinking of the three men on the Portland train who intervened when an man angrily cursed and threatened a woman in a hijab and her African American friend. Their intervention was the civil, thoughtful response. It is what I’d hope I would have done in their situation. And yet two of these men lost their lives and the third was seriously injured. 

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “How do we measure the cost of things?” The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” 

Over Memorial Day weekend, I reflected on how some people willingly put their lives on the line for the sake of our cherished ideals. This is truly an embodiment of our values. So I’m also thinking about all those who willingly sacrifice for the sake of others. I think Thoreau is on to something. 

What is worthy of you? What is worthy of the greatest cost? 

What values are you called to embody in this challenging time in our nation’s history?

May my own reflection to be sufficient for your reflection this week. 

Grateful to be journeying with you all,